Unemployment in Colombia dropped to 9% in November, the lowest figure of the whole year and reaches levels not seen in the country since June 2017. This is assured by the 2023 labor market report presented by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), this Friday, December 29. In this study, it is also made known that the occupation rate reached 58.3%, that is to say, that it went up 0.9% with compared to November 2022.
Likewise, the unemployment rate for the national total in November 2023 was 11.1% for women, while that of men was 7.4%. In other words, the gender gap was reduced by 3.7 percentage points, and is the lowest since November 2016.
Good employment figures
Last month’s figure explains that in the last month the unemployed population in Colombia decreased by half a point, consolidating six consecutive months of improvements in the labor market. In November, 699,000 new jobs were generated, evidencing positive growth in sectors such as transportation and warehousing, construction, and accommodation and food services.
This means that the number of people employed in the national total was 23.18 million, a remarkable number, especially considering the context of economic slowdown that the country has been suffering for some months now and that threatens to push the economy into recession.
Among the capital cities, Quibdo continues to lead in unemployment. For November, the rate stood at 23.8% in the capital of Chocó. It is followed by Riohacha, in the department of La Guajira, with 13.8% unemployment and Ibague, in Tolima, with 13.2%. On the other hand, the cities with the lowest unemployment were Bucaramanga with 6.6%, Medellín with 8.4% and Bogota with 8.7%.
The government boasts
Although traditional challenges remain, such as the need to address the high level of informality and the lack of training in skills demanded by employers, the government has welcomed the news. President Gustavo Petro has congratulated himself on the figures.
“Excellent year-of-end news, we have a substantial drop in unemployment in the month of November. We reached 9%. The employment rate continues to rise, especially in formal employment and the overall rate of participation of the population in the economy as well. The employment gap between men and women is closing. The real minimum wage rose and employment increased. Data for a new macroeconomy,” the president wrote.
2024, the year of labor reform
Next year should be the year of the implementation of the labor reform, if it is finally approved when parliamentary sessions resume. This December, Congress approved some of the most controversial articles, such as the night surcharge, although important discrepancies persist on an essential point for the government: collective bargaining.
In this regard, when the Minister of Labor, Gloria Inés Ramírez, presented her second attempt at labor reform, she indicated that the government’s objective was to ensure the transition from informality to formality. It should be remembered that Colombia has very high rates of informality, and these workers experience difficulties related to not paying health and pension contributions. This also has disadvantages for the state, for example in the form of low tax revenues.